“ (Dale Stuckenbruck-virtuoso of the musical saw)....provided the thrill of listening to [a]
fantastically accomplished practitioner of the esoteric..
New York Times, 2007
Dale Stuckenbruck is a Grammy nominated sawist and recognized internationally as one of the premier artist of the musical saw. Such acclaim is substantiated by his recordings of “Sawing to New Heights”, and "Ancient Voices of Children" by George Crumb on Bridge Records, and for his performances of the “Divination by Mirrors” by Michael Levine with the New Century Chamber Orchestra and the New York Virtuosi, and his performance with the New York Philharmonic with Leonid Kavakos . He has performed the saw in chamber music with Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society, as soloist with the Brooklyn Philharmonic, The Queens Philharmonic, Allentown Symphony Orchestra, Hudson Highlands Festival Orchestra, and featured with the New York Philharmonic. He as appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno with KORN and in their recoding of MTV unplugged, and also in a recording with alternative rock group Black Lips . Appearances with Erick Friedman at the Garrett Lakes Festival, Dave Taylor, Leaf Peeper Concerts, The Sherman Ensemble, The Long Island Guitar Festival, Sequitor, The Pierrot Consort, and L'Ensemble have provided opportunities for the saw to be heard beyond its use as a folk instrument. He has inspired new chamber music to be written for the saw by David Loeb, John Link, Alan Hirsh (Harrisdale Concerto), in films such as, "American Splendor" and "Flirting with Disaster", and in numerous commercials.
He grew up with the saw because of his father, Dr. Earl Stuckenbruck, a theological scholar and sawist, who was know for his "Kreislerian" style. Dale's children Erin and Orin have also become great sawists. Erin played the first ever undergraduate recital on the saw at Bard College and has written the most recent historical description of the saw that includes its most interesting properties relating to physics.
“best of all, the angelic sounds of a musical saw, played here by Dale Stuckenbruck. Who needs electronics when you have this strangely alluring instrument?” New York Times, March 2017
(in a performance with the New York Philharmonic, "Fractured Dreams," by Lera Auerbach, Leonidas Kavakos -violin, Alan Gilbert-conductor.)
SAW, SEEN, HEARD
“Divination by Mirrors,” a work in eight sections for musical saw and string orchestra, received its world premiere in New York on Wednesday, March 4, 1998 with the New York Virtuosi conducted by Kenneth Klein. The piece rather unusually divides the orchestra into two halves, set up on opposite sides of the stage, tuned 1/4 step apart. The title is a reference to one of the many kinds of musical symmetry explored by the piece. It is in eight sections, each named after a different kind of divination, or occult fortune telling. The structure of the work on both a macro and micro is derived from Fibonacci and Golden Mean ratios.
The soloist, Mr. Stuckenbruck, is known to New Yorkers as a violinist—a concertmaster of several groups including the Virtuosi. He is a second-generation saw player who still performs concerts with his 80-year-old father. The crowd, which nearly filled Merkin Hall, consisted of both young hipsters and older, more conservative, listeners. All seemed entranced by the evocative and technically superb playing of saw soloist Dale Stuckenbruck. The piece itself is an audience-challenging work in which the orchestra is divided into two halves, set up on opposite sides of the stage and tuned 1/4 step apart. But the saw, with its haunting and expressive character, drew even the more traditional listeners in.
A review on Friday March 6 in the New York Post said that Dale Stuckenbruck had “astonishing control” of the saw and went on the describe the mechanics of his bowing and vibrato. After pointing out the quarter-tone nature of the composition, the reviewer said, nevertheless, the piece was “truly beautiful and musically memorable.”
East Asian improvisation
An exploration through improvisation of an East Asian style using the musical saw.
This unusual instrument’s silky, tremulous tone is often interwoven with high solo violin sequences to suggest mystery, loss of moorings, hints of something tentative or unknown — and, no doubt, the potential for wonder that Auerbach mentions in connection with dreams.
Classic Voice of America:
In Ms Auerbach's new work, the warbly timbres of a musical saw cut across tumultuous percussion and strings, with soloist Leonidas Kavakos' elusive violin lines weaving their way through this ethereal patchwork.
Classical Music Web:
"Between the kazoo and the whistle lies the Serengeti of musical paraphernalia in which the musical saw takes its prominent place. Here is rises to Romantic heights (the first movement of the Neapolitan Serenade for instance) with a fervor that quivers with metallic intensity. The duo even manage to invest the music with romanticized gesture where the rallentandi in "the Dream" Theme are apt and wavery with import. In October song composer Steve Margoshes threatens a Bachian Fugue and cultivates other devices as registral leaps (fine left hand blade bending from Stuckenbruck) and a kind of "Elmanesque" long bow...the disc comes obviously with the composer-perfromer's imprimatur (fine piano playing from Margoshes in "Procession for Two"
Sacramento Gazette, Oct 17, 2003:
Varied Program Highlights New Century Premier; By E. Haig: " a special nod must also go to Dale Stuckenbruck, who delighted the audience with his musical saw, which, he quipped in a short introduction to the instrument, he plays in tune, even though he plays the tool, er, instrument on the flat, not the sharp, side. But perhaps the most magical of those moments were provided by Mr. Stuckenbruck and his saw.
In Michael Levine’s “Divination by Mirrors” the bowed saw is the featured instrument, and to watch Mr. Stuckenbruck produce the unique and highly musical sound from his saw was a wonder. For this composition, the orchestra is divided in half, with each representing different “pitch universes.” Levine describes the work as a study in “dynamic symmetry,” with the two halves of the orchestra, separately pitched, joined by the saw, which plays in both pitches (they are tuned one-quarter step apart). It is one of the most original works we’ve ever heard, highlighted by Mr. Stuckenbruck’s mastery of this most unusual of musical instruments. Mr. Stuckenbruck then provided a much lighter, but equally enjoyable arrangement (his own) of a piece called “Pale Moon.” Again featuring his saw, with the full orchestra in accompaniment, this work called images of an old Western/Native American theme of unrequited love.
A Musical Halloween, New Century Chamber Orchestra:
(Reviewed by Hauntmistress: 10/10/2003)
"Led by music director Krista Bennion Feeney, the NCCO's A Musical Halloween features soloists Dale Stuckenbruck on the musical saw and Jeffrey Swann on piano. The musical selections (featuring works from Mendelssohn, Purcell, Liszt, Price, and others) are superb, as is their placement in the program. The soloists were fascinating to watch. The audience got a brief and humorous lesson in the musical saw from Stuckenbruck before he and the orchestra played Divination by Mirrors by Michael Levine. The musical saw is the perfect instrument for Halloween! The tones and sounds it makes can be creepy and made Divination by Mirrors a spooky piece!
While we were gathering our things to leave the concert, we heard a number of people commenting on how great the show was, saying, "amazing", "fabulous", "the embodiment of Halloween", and "the musical saw was my favorite!". And the most humorous comment: "Any other concert I would have slept through. This was absolutely fabulous!"